Pubdate: Wed, 26 Apr 2006
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company
Author: David C. Leven


To the Editor:

The decision by the Food and Drug Administration indicating that the
medical use of marijuana is not supported by sound scientific studies
is wrong.

The well-researched 1999 report by the prestigious Institute of
Medicine recommended smoked marijuana in limited circumstances, as it
noted that "nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety ... all can be
mitigated by marijuana."

In addition, the Institute of Medicine report made other important
findings to dispel many myths. For example, Marinol, a pill form,
cannot always be used as an alternative.

As the report stated, "It is well recognized that Marinol's oral route
of administration hampers its effectiveness because of slow

The report also found that "except for the harms associated with
smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of
effects tolerated for other medications." And it did not find
marijuana to be a gateway drug.

The F.D.A.'s announcement should not be surprising given its
politicization in recent years. But it should be very alarming to
those of us working in the health and human services fields who care
deeply that key medical findings be based on science and not ideology
or politics and the right of our patients to have access to all
effective pain and other symptom-relieving medicines.

The F.D.A.'s decision is an affront to both science and our

David C. Leven

Executive Director, Compassion and Choices of New York

New York, April 21, 2006
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